Live Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen at Sheffield’s Fly DSA Arena
“Sheffield! How are yous,” shouts Catfish and the Bottlemen frontman Van McCann. “Not seen yous since Don Valley!”
Like clockwork, Van greets a Sheffield crowd like an old pal. A similar comment was made at Don Valley and at their Tramlines headline set, each a subtle statement about how far this band have come from their 2013 set at Soyo. Yes, we’re going to mention *that* gig one more time…
Speaking to Exposed back in 2016 ahead of the band’s headline set at Tramlines, local promoter Neil Hargreaves told Exposed: “I’ve worked with Catfish many times over the years and am happy to call them friends, and they are without a shadow of a doubt the hardest working band I’ve ever met, and deserve every single amount of success that comes their way. They were always destined to headline Tramlines Festival.” It is no surprise that three years on, the band are selling arenas and parks out across the country.
Opening with the three lead singles from the band’s last three albums, ‘Longshot’, ‘Kathleen’ and ‘Soundtrack’, you can understand why Van’s songwriting process takes into account the bounce of the crowd. Watching from the side, the standing section at the Fly DSA Arena was utter bedlam. People on shoulders, smoke bombs, inflatable crocodiles – all sorts was going on down there. Racing through the classics the band intersperse ‘Pacifier’, ‘Fallout’, ‘Homsick’ and an elongated ‘Business’ with tracks from ‘Conversation’ and ‘2All’ from new album The Balance which, judging by this reaction, are instant classics too.
A tender moment with ‘Hourglass’ allows the arena, and Van, to take in the night before closing the initial set with an explosive performance of ‘Fluctuate’. The classic Catfish encore of ‘7’. ‘Cocoon’ and ‘Tyrants’ would be slightly predictable, if not even more emphatic each time you witness it.
My partner commented that Van had grown into a proper frontman over the years, literally covering every inch of the stage and at one point almost wiping out guitarist Johnny Bond with his mic stand. I disagreed though, he’s always had that energy. Only this time, he’s got the room of the UK’s arenas to play with.
Catfish and the Bottlemen played the Fly DSA Arena in Sheffield on 7 May. Their third album, The Balance, is out now.